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Advisory Signs Part of Five-Week Study Along Westbound MD 100 in Anne Arundel County

(November 25, 2009) – Taking a proactive step toward heightened safety and reduced travel delays, the Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration (SHA) is piloting a system that will help guide motorists to a smoother, safer transition to reduced lanes, especially in highly congested areas and in work zones. 

Next week, SHA begins a five-week study of Variable Speed Advisory technology, a new traffic management tool that allows for gradual lane merges and changes without sudden stops or backups.  The $70,000 project is a partnership effort with the University of Maryland’s Traffic Safety and Operations lab.

SHA is testing this technology on two miles of westbound MD 100 between MD 713 (Ridge Road) and Coca Cola Drive.  Using roadside sensors, speed trailers and vehicle recognition software, SHA will collect real-time and historical data to determine if providing advisory speeds and travel time information to drivers ultimately helps reduce congestion along heavily-traveled corridors.  No work is scheduled within or prior to the test area.  Motorists may see messages related to speed reduction, followed by speed advisory signs indicating the recommended travel speed.

“We are constantly seeking new ways to use innovative advances in technology to improve safety along Maryland’s roads,” SHA Administrator Neil J. Pedersen.  “We can use this new technology not only to relieve congestion, but impact driver behavior, ultimately creating a safer driving environment for everyone.”

This section of westbound MD 100 was selected due to its significant traffic demand during evening rush hours, rapid drops in vehicle speed when congestion occurs, and varying changes in road geometry.  MD 100 serves as a major commuter route between Howard and Anne Arundel counties.  The introduction of variable speed advisories demonstrates SHA’s commitment to creating better ways to keep motorists and highway crews protected from injuries and death.  Other state departments of transportation have used this type of technology in varying forms, including Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington.              

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